Even with the seats in an upright and locked position, right, Muni bus riders still sit on them anyway, defeating the purpose of locking the seats. (GABRIELLE LURIE/2014 SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER)

Even with the seats in an upright and locked position, right, Muni bus riders still sit on them anyway, defeating the purpose of locking the seats. (GABRIELLE LURIE/2014 SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER)

Muni testing device that may make locked seats safe

A solution to Muni’s 1,400 locked — and now unusable — seats may soon be at hand.

The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency is testing a new vertical handlebar which may allow the agency to lower those seats, which have been locked upright since early 2014.

Right now, about 700 buses in Muni’s fleet have a specific set of two chairs, permanently locked in an upright position which were slapped with a sticker reading “This seat has been disabled for safety reasons.”

The seats weren’t the problem, however, but the lack of hand rails were. Without rails, some riders (in similarly designed buses, in other cities) were flying forward when buses came to a sudden stop.

The manufacturer, New Flyer, sent out a warning to transit agencies requesting the seats be locked.

Now about 20 Muni buses are outfitted with new poles which the SFMTA is testing. The locked seats themselves are now potentially a safety risk.

“Since the time the manufacturer requested that we take this safety measure, we noticed that passengers sit on the locked seats,” said Paul Rose, a spokesman for the SFMTA.

Indeed, even riding on the 38-Geary on Tuesday night, the San Francisco Examiner spotted a headphone-wearing rider leaning against the seat, precariously perched on the tip of the locked portion. To everyday Muni riders, the sight is common.

Now that may change. Of the new handles, Rose said, “In an effort to keep our riders as safe as possible, we installed these prototypes to study their effectiveness and convenience for nearby patrons.”

Officially, SFMTA said previously the problematic seats were locked upright for safety reasons. But bus insurance company CalTIP warned other transit agencies of lawsuits, which were filed after passengers flew out of seats in similarly designed buses — leading to the necessity of locking them upright, so they would not be used.

Now, at least, there may finally be a solution.

Rose said, “If we move forward,” the poles would be installed on about 500 buses.

The cost would run between $500 to $1,000 per installation, he said, but SFMTA is still “working out specific costs.”

lawsuitslocked seatsMuniSan Francisco Municipal Transportation AgencySFMTATransit

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

City Administrator Naomi Kelly said Wednesday that the allegations against her husband were “based on the word of a liar.” (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City Administrator Naomi Kelly takes leave after feds charge husband

High-ranking official under scrutiny over 2016 China trip

High school seniors Shayla and Kayla Bryant receive guidance from 100% College Prep around college admissions. (Courtesy photo)
High school seniors juggling college applications and distance learning

In a final year of high school spent largely online, seniors are… Continue reading

Lyft, owner of the Bay Wheels bikeshare program, stands to receive more than $300,000 in a legal settlement with The City. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supervisors to weigh $330,000 settlement with Lyft over bikeshare dispute

If approved, deal would resolve an 18-month long legal battle over San Francisco’s e-bike market

The J Church train could begin running again later this month on at least part of its surface route. (Mira Laing/Special to S.F. Examiner)
First Muni trains will return to service Dec. 19

Three additional bus routes coming back online in January

Stanford defensive end Thomas Booker recently was one of Pac-12’s Football Players of the Week. <ins>(Pac-12 Screenshot)</ins>
College Football Preview: Oregon at Cal, Stanford at Washington

Cal plays final home game, Stanford plays second of three road games to end regular season

Most Read